Just business is how Adolfo Reina described the Detroit Tigers losing him in the minor league phase of December’s Rule 5 draft.
Reina mashed a two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning on Saturday against West Michigan, a Tigers affiliate, to give the TinCaps an 8-6 come-from-behind victory.
The Padres selected Reina, a 24-year-old veteran minor leaguer, to boost their catching depth. In Fort Wayne’s eighth victory in its last 10 games, Reina did a lot more than that.
When I hit the ball, it just seemed like a fly, said Reina, who was mobbed by teammates at home plate and sported shaving cream on his face in the clubhouse.
A sacrifice fly would have done the trick with pinch-runner Mallex Smith standing on third with one out.
As I continued to watch I knew it was gone, Smith said. I tagged up just to be a good sport. More so to look and watch.
The ball sailed into the night, the final exclamation point on a game saved by Dustin Peterson’s tying solo homer with one out in the ninth.
Starter Kyle Lloyd had just emerged from the cold tub in the bowels of Parkview Field when he heard the crowd roar and instinctively knew the TinCaps had tied it at 6. He returned to the dugout soon after to make sure he didn’t miss the conclusion.
Lloyd’s struggles helped put the TinCaps in a 5-0 hole in the fourth, but they fought back bit by bit to set up the heroics of Peterson and Reina.
Able to get a TinCaps win, that’s all it’s about, Lloyd said.
Fort Wayne (25-30) finished 15-15 in May and has won five in a row at home.
It appeared a lost cause until Peterson golfed a fly down the line in left that landed on the concourse to give the TinCaps new life.
I was looking for a fastball that I could drive, Peterson said. It was a 2-0 count. (Whitecaps right-hander Montreal Robertson) left it over the plate. I knew I got it pretty well.
The climb back was gradual: a bases-loaded walk by Ryan Miller in the fourth, runs on errors in the fifth and sixth innings and two more in the eighth to make it 6-5.
Different guys contributed, TinCaps manager Michael Collins said. It’s one of those momentum changers. They got off to a good start. It looked like they were going to win there at some point. For us to overcome it and win, they’re probably going to go home off the back foot.
Justin Livengood pitched three innings of one-run ball in relief of Lloyd, Nick Mutz got five outs, and Tayron Guerrero (4-0) induced a ground ball to second to end a Whitecaps rally in the top of the 10th.
Jake Bauers hit a scorching liner to lead off the bottom half and Smith pinch-ran. He stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice by Miller. Collins credited Miller’s bunt as a key play because it removed the margin of error for Whitecaps reliever Scott Sitz (2-5).
Reina, 0 for 4 and homerless since last season when he was with West Michigan (31-25), took it from there.
We played against him last year, Smith said. It’s awesome for the revenge factor. OK, you guys want to get rid of me? I’ll show you what you’re missing.’